Shades of the Same Skin: Donna J. Sanders

Donna J Sanders

Introducing Donna J. Sanders

From: Trinidad

Currently resides: Florida, USA

I wasn’t quite the typical island girl. I buried my head in Nancy Drew books, I wore out the record player listening to a narrative of Alice in Wonderland, and I was obsessed with 80’s rock when I got my first boom box. Rowdy carnivals and soca music were not my style, but I loved other aspects of my culture.

I especially enjoyed the street food: shark and bake, pholourie with tamarind chutney, doubles, and all kinds of roti. Desserts were quite a treat as well. Mom made paw-paw candy (using green papayas), and my aunt was the queen of sugar cake (a concoction of shredded coconut and sugar).

 Growing up with Hindu, Muslim, and Christian influences, I was exposed to a variety of culture. I remember lighting the diyas during Diwali at my grandmother’s house. I had a few aunts and uncles who celebrated Eid, and they would share a sweet dish called sawine at the end of the holiday. Christmas was the time when the whole family would get together and dance to some lively parang music.

 It wasn’t always paradise living on an island. I think back to the days we didn’t always have running water and had to bathe using a bucket in the tub. A lot of people had tanks to preserve water because you didn’t know when it would flow again. Grandma’s house was not yet equipped with a toilet, so we had to use the latrine outside. I remain humble because my parents were not able to afford everything I wanted, which is why today, I am not obsessed with having the latest items trending or brand named goods.

Everything I experienced on the island has certainly influenced my writing and my way of life. I hope as I continue to write, I can inform and entertain using the culture flowing through my veins.

Diyas – oil lamp made from clay used in religious festivals or ceremonies

 Eid – a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims

 Sawine – a sweet dish to celebrate the end of fasting, make with milk, vermicelli noodles and flavored with aromatic spices.

 Parang – folk music brought to Trinidad by Venezuelan migrants, with Spanish and African influences.

Donna’s pages:


She would yell,

Beti, go pick some pigeon peas for meh.

I would run to the backyard where she had

peas and scotch bonnet pepper trees

I loved eating the pods right out of the shells

Watching her catch a chicken was entertainment

They were fast on their three pronged feet

but not fast enough for grandma’s machete

The fowl had no time to feel pain

Immediately soaking it in boiling water

I helped her pluck the feathers from its warm skin

and then she chopped it to pieces

The fresh meat would marinate in her green seasoning

with some salt and chunks of pepper

She would stand at the stove in her flamingo stance

stirring the huge iron pot stained with years of curry

Nobody could make a pelau like grandma could

Beti (bay – tee) – means daughter in Hindi, could also be used as dear/darling

Pelau – chicken is seared in caramelized brown sugar – rice and peas are added then simmered in coconut milk. Not an easy dish to make. I’ve tried it once and failed. I leave this one to the professionals.


cultural Photo

The iron pot is a must have in every Caribbean household. It can be made of cast iron or aluminum, but the cast iron ones are much better for cooking curries and stews that need to simmer low and slow. These pots last such a long time; they can be passed down from generation to generation.

Recipe:Trinidad Green Seasoning


  • 1 medium onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 4 scallions (aka green onions – chopped)
  • 1 celery stalk (chopped)
  • 10-12 cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme (chopped with stems removed)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro or culantro (chopped)
  • water

Optional ingredients:

scotch bonnet or habanero pepper

red pepper flakes

hot sauce


green pepper

red pepper


  • Place all ingredients in food processor or blender, adding water a little at a time until desired consistency. Texture should be like pesto.

Use on any type of meat to marinate overnight.

 *You can also just finely chop everything instead of blending

 *Can also use olive oil instead of water but since olive oil can tenderize meat, shorten the time for seafood and leaner cuts of beef.

*This seasoning is best when used fresh, but you can make a large batch and freeze in portions for future use. Fresh can be stored for about 1 week in refrigerator.

Shades of the Same Skin Cover 

Shades of the Same Skin is an anthology of culture. The world is in need of a vigorous seasoning and it is why the poets in this book are willing to share their ethnicity. Each one will give some insight into their culture, music, clothing, food, traditions, and even share a few recipes. Some will engage in unique stories and folklore. Others will take us back to their childhood days and compare it to the experience of children today. A few will even welcome us into their homes to share items from their heritage.

This is also a book of unity. Its purpose is to show that without diversity, the world would be a boring place. Each poet in this anthology has a unique style because of where they came from, their experiences, and who they are. Their words are printed on these pages to inspire why we belong. We are all vital ingredients for the recipe to keep the world stirring.

Shades of the Same Skin is Available at the following Retailers:

Create Space:


Creative Talents Unleashed:

100% of all proceeds from this book are being donated to the “Starving Artist Fund” to assist writers in becoming published authors. Purchasing this book can help a writer become a published author!

Categories: Anthology, author

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: